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Shakers, Billie Smith, Mcquady’s Basketball Hoop Inventor, And More

A Shaker story you never want to end

Perhaps living near Kentucky’s own restored Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill inspired Ann Gabhart to document the ideals of the Shakers’ peaceful, communal existence in her collection of best-selling Shaker novels, The Outsider, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Believer.

Now in The Gifted (Revell, $14.99,, Gabhart continues her story of fictional Harmony Hill Shaker village by introducing Jessamine Brady, a young sister who has spent half her life with the Shakers but can’t seem to forego her wonder of the world outside the village.

When Jessamine rescues a wounded man from the woods, everything she believes in will be put to the test. Though The Gifted is the fifth book in a series, each book is a stand-alone story and can be read in any order.

Gabhart’s thorough research of Shaker life is evident throughout Jessamine’s story. Readers will learn much about the lifestyle that involved no romantic love, separation of men and women, self-sustenance, and an energetic style of worship that defined the sect.

Following the teachings of their leader, Mother Ann Lee, the Shakers believed their communities were an example of heaven on earth. Because of the required commitment to celibacy, the communities grew by adding converts, indenturing children, or adopting orphans. Upon reaching the age of 21, young members were given the choice to leave or sign a lifetime commitment. As might be expected, turnover rates were high. At its peak in the 1800s, the Shaker movement claimed 3,500 believers. By 1920, however, only 12 communities remained.

Gabhart, who has been writing since the age of 10, is an avid University of Kentucky basketball fan, loves playing with her grandchildren, and enjoys traveling with her husband and his gospel quartet.

To her readers, she says, “I want you, the reader, to feel good after reading my books and to wish the story hadn’t ended. Everything that happens in my books isn’t happy but I do my best to make the stories encouraging and uplifting. I want you to be glad you read the book. It’s always my hope that my characters will crawl up into your heart and find a loving home.”

Asked often if she is still writing, Gabhart responds, “The answer is always yes. Maybe not successfully all the time, but always writing something. It’s sort of like breathing. I just can’t help it.” –Penny Woods

High-tech powers ag school growth

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture in Lexington reports an all-time-high enrollment. Associate Dean for Instruction Larry Grabau says, “Students are gravitating toward the college for many reasons. One can be attributed to new programs in the college, but also growing popularity of existing programs.” Agricultural graduates are working in cutting-edge fields of robotics, biotechnology, and all facets of human/animal health. Other encouraging statistics point to retention of students, and a large number of out-of-state enrollments. “Agriculture graduates are in demand nationwide. Overall, employability of our graduates looks good,” he says. “Average salaries for many entry-level positions for some majors are around $40,000.”

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Billy Smith’s as reliable as a, well, a dairy farmer

Billy Smith from Bethlehem in Henry County grew up on a dairy farm and has run his own, in addition to raising tobacco, for nearly 40 years.

Last year he completed his 22,000th continuous milking. Twice a day, 5:30 a.m.and 5:30 p.m., he hooks 30 cows, three at a time, to milking machines. That’s 730 every year, with an exception during Leap Year when two additional are needed.

Over the years he’s only personally missed five—three when he got married, when the best man filled in, and two breaking a cheekbone during a softball game, which required an overnight stay in the hospital.

Smith and his wife, Stephanie, who helps with the calves and stripping tobacco, have three children. Billy John, 31, is a teacher at West Middle School in Shelby County, Cole, 27, is a CPA in Louisville, and Heidi, 21, is a senior at Western Kentucky University, majoring in art history.

“One thing about growing up on a dairy farm,” Smith jokes, “the kids love to go away to college.”

Daughter Heidi, who’ll graduate in May, says, “I learned a lot from his work ethic. I played volleyball and softball growing up and he never missed a home game. Dad and Mom were the best role models.”

Smith’s remark to his daughter’s compliment was, “You make things work out. We always ate supper together, and on Christmas mornings when they were little I’d start milking an hour early—4:00 or 4:30, so I could be there when they woke up to open presents. One year Cole came out to help so we could get done faster and get to the gifts. Now, it’s sort of a tradition. Everyone goes out to help.”

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Energy Efficiency Tip

An impressive, large-screen TV can also be an impressive energy guzzler. In general, the bigger the screen, the more power it draws, and HD pulls more, too. Plasma screens use the most energy, while LCD TVs use much less. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo for highest efficiencies. And remember to change your new TV’s default settings to a power saver mode, and turn down the LCD backlight to save energy without sacrificing picture quality.

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Quote: America’s New Energy Future

“In just five years, unconventional oil and natural gas activity (using advances in extraction technology) has thrust the nation into an unexpected position. It is now the global growth leader in crude oil production capacity growth…And the United States is now the largest natural gas producer.”

—America’s New Energy Future: The Unconventional Oil and Gas Revolution and the U.S. Economy, IHS Inc.

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The inventor from McQuady

Jim Jolly, 82, from McQuady, will tell you, “I’m a cabinetmaker by trade and just a country boy from Breckinridge County who likes to tinker.”

But basketball enthusiasts and players know he invented the “Mercedes” of basketball rims, known as “Revolution.”

It was on display in 1984 at the Final Four in Seattle and used later in exhibition at the “Great Kentucky Shootout” in Louisville’s Freedom Hall.

“It was the only rim of its time that would break away and recover from any slam dunk shot. It’s the safest system that’s ever been designed for players,” Jolly says. “At one time it was mass produced and marketed by Basketball Products International. There’s one on display at the Louisville Science Center.”

But the rim wasn’t his first invention and won’t be his last. During his cabinetmaking days he patented the “Jolly Roller,” an applicator device for contact adhesives and glues, water or oil base paints, roof coatings, and many other fluids.

He also invented a storage case for the roller, which kept it immersed in solvent to eliminate daily cleanup. This invention was used in cabinet shops, industrial plants, and on location in businesses and residences.

Jolly continues to work daily in a shop behind his home perfecting numerous ideas and concepts—including more basketball rims. He has many working prototypes for household gadgets, lawn care equipment, and even improvements for rifles.

“I’m a blessed man,” he says, “I can see things in 3-D.”

Then, he cautions, with a twinkle in his eye, “It’s not a life to follow if you don’t have money to back it up. I’ve lost more money than a farmer makes in a lifetime.”

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Gorilla Glass of Kentucky

Corning Gorilla Glass by Corning Incorporated is a damage-resistant cover glass used on more than 1 billion sophisticated electronic devices and it’s made in Harrodsburg.

It looked like the 60-year-old plant might close during the 2007 recession until Apple’s Steve Jobs selected Corning as a supplier of the durable, scratch-resistant material for iPhones. Corning experimented with a chemically strengthened glass in the early 1960s that was used in a variety of markets, such as tableware and the auto industry. Using their expertise from that era, Corning developed the thin, damage-resistant glass that today is a protective layer for screens on cell phones and touch screen devices.

Corning’s Supervisor/Media Relations Joe Dunning says, “Customer agreements guide our disclosure of specific product information. What I can tell you is that we have supplied the glass for iPhones since 2007.”

Gorilla Glass 2 has been announced and is 20 percent thinner, offering a brighter display. The potential growth appears significant as billions of electronic devices are sold, and Corning is pursuing new uses such as flat-screen TVs, architecture, and automobiles.

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Art intersection

Cameo sandblasted glass by Rick Schneider and Nikki Vahle pays tribute to professional firefighters with “This is not a drill.” It’s among the exhibits at the Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery in Louisville’s exhibit “Etch,” February 7-March 30.

“It is meant to be a conversation between two art forms,” says Director Tiffany Ackerman, who organized the show. Featured works combine that of illustrator/printmaker Justin Kamerer and glass artists Schneider and Vahle. Ackerman explains, “These artists have similar aesthetics yet they express them in two different mediums.” The gallery is at 815 W. Market Street. For more info, including hours, visit or phone (502) 584-5353.

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